If Romo is left to roam....
The oddsmakers have the Cowboys as three-point underdogs for Sunday's game.
You might wonder why the spread isn't greater, considering the loss of DeMarco Murray and Jon Kitna, considering the game is at the Meadowlands, considering Eli Manning's tremendous ability as a leader, as well as a player, and considering that both Felix Jones and Tony Romo are not in the condition you would hope for such a big game.
But of course, this is a rivalry that defies odds and stats. The keys to the game for the Cowboys include: Romo being able to throw outside the pocket, Jones being able to get first downs and four great receivers holding their season averages. On defense, Manning is vulnerable. Ware will have the good day he should have had in the first game.
For their part, the Giants have been erratic. Their biggest win was against New England, the last of a three-game winning streak in early November. They've lost their last three home games. Injured players include Osi Umenyiora, Mario Manningham, Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks.
For this game, the Cowboys are more than the sum of their parts. They have more of a need to win. As an organization, they're better suited to get this game.
Tony Romo will "be playing at full strength," Jerry Jones said on Friday. "It's just a very big-time feel-good to know that we're going to be going in with this kind of quarterbacking. He's had an outstanding year. He's a top, top quarterback and he's got a good team around him. In my belief, a very good team around him, so the stage is set for us to play well in a big game."
But the question is can Sir Romo escape the pass rush the way he did on December 11th.
If he can, and if the Cowboys don't give up big plays on defense, they will win. Tony Romo hasn't won a game like this in a while. He had all the ability. He's due.
On the one hand, yes, Felix Jones has been a disappointment this season, and so, he lost his job to DeMarco Murray.
He's also listed as probable for Sunday night, although of course, he will play. Yes, he's had some disastrous fumbles, not least during the last game against NYG on December 11th.
On the other hand, he ran for more than 100 yards on December 11th. He's capable of big plays. He has an incentive to reestablish himself.
For this game, he doesn't need to look over his shoulder. He will have a big game.
Dez Bryant is on top of his game in terms of receptions, yards and TDs. And although not a great game on December 11—one reception for a 50-yard TD—look for him to have a big game on Sunday.
Miles Austin was 4-of-7 in the first game, including a TD. He dominates the middle of the field.
Jason Witten had a subpar game last time, including a dropped ball. He's due for a big game.
Laurent Robinson may be the difference. He had a great game on December 11. Look for him again on go patterns down the right side.
DeMarcus Ware will have his way with David Diehl, as he should have but didn't on December 11.
Ware, who has had only four games without sacks, will be on target. Why? Because this is one of those games that great players respond to.
Interestingly, he had his second-best game of the season last week against Philadelphia—a game that he might have blown off.
Moreover, during the last 16 games, he seems to have roughly, four-game cycles in which he'll have three strong games in a row then a drop. If there's any validity to that, he's due for another strong game.